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At my workplace we have a small faction of insubordinate employees who think they can do whatever the like and do not allow new hires in the same department to integrate into the team. The tension has escalated to the point that some of the new hires have resigned.

Even though I'm the owner of the company, I cannot discuss this with them. They are very disobedient and I suspect that one of them is also stealing product. The reason I can't fire them is that I cannot find other workers to replace them and we have a lot of orders to fulfil.

How should I handle this situation?

  • 83
    What would you do if that group got hit by a bus on the way to work? – nvoigt Sep 3 '15 at 6:30
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    If the anarchic group gets hit by a bus, the other team members would understand and agree to do overtime, then why wouldn't they understand if you fired the whole group, which presumably nobody else likes anyway? – Masked Man Sep 3 '15 at 13:56
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    By allowing this dysfunctional group to continue as they are, you're sending a message to all other employees, and it's not a good one. Get rid of them now before you start losing even more employees that have a better work ethic. It may hurt in the short term, but the long-term effects of keeping them will be worse. – Scraping Infinity Sep 3 '15 at 14:56
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    I'll also remind everyone to remember the "Be nice' policy at Stack Exchange and to remain professional and polite :) – Jane S Sep 4 '15 at 11:30
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    It would be very useful to future readers if you could write up how you choose to tackle the situation, and the eventual outcome. – Dewi Morgan Sep 5 '15 at 4:01

13 Answers 13

107

You need to establish who is the boss, NOW.

The faction have got you by the short and curlies. They think they are irreplaceable and are damaging your authority, possibly permanently (and stealing from you).

You need to crack down on this, make them know that they need to shape up or ship out, and mean it. The orders to fulfill can't stop you following through on this, you have a contingency in the "hit by bus" scenario, so you can survive it (the decent staff will understand as much as the bus scenario). By sound even bolstering your workforce with untrained people would be better.

You will find you get to a point where you cannot hire new staff (I'm sure the recent leavers will be telling people why they left), these people are a threat to your business, not just in fulfilling your current orders, but generally, deal with them NOW.

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    Not NOW, but LAST WEEK! That would be a more accurate time. But yes, I agree with you. The problem is finding replacements quickly. – Ismael Miguel Sep 3 '15 at 14:29
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    "You need to crack down on this, make them know that they need to shape up or ship out, and mean it." and by mean it... that means follow through. Will it hurt in the short term? Yes. Will you go crazy in the long term otherwise? Yes. – WernerCD Sep 3 '15 at 16:57
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    This answer assumes that the view in the question is entirely correct, that the employees are entirely in the wrong. It is a very top-down view. If there are systemic management issues which have fed or created this behaviour, this approach will only increase staff turnover. It is very rare for staff issues to be black-and-white as this answer implies, and if there are good employees who have been caught up in this situation you risk raising tensions and losing the best employees first. Junior employees with talent can be the answer to the problem unless you push them out with harsh punishment – Phil H Sep 4 '15 at 9:54
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    @PhilH Good point; always good to step back and see the whole picture. – user1477388 Sep 4 '15 at 16:15
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    Chances are if you fire the worst one the rest of them will shape up. – Dean MacGregor Sep 5 '15 at 1:27
83

I can appreciate that you feel you can't fire them. It's a very difficult thing to do in the face of potential lost business, but as @jwsc pointed out the longer vision includes them killing this business for you eventually simply by nature of damaging your employer/employee relationship publicly.

My next bit of advice is tempered with the assumption that you've already tried communicating with each of these individuals to indicate that the behavior is not acceptable, and they've already decided to ignore this communication.

I would recommend initiating a performance improvement plan for each of them individually and privately. Have the problems you've identified bulleted out for them. Given them specific timelines and expectations. Tell them the behavior you see, the behavior you want to see and what steps you think they need to take to bridge the two.

They're likely to discuss these meetings among themselves, and if their behavior is as you describe there will be a fair bit of mocking. Endure it. Since all of their timelines and actions should be similar, when they fail to meet these expectations select the individual who seems to act as the linchpin of the group (the one around whom most of them gravitate). Terminate this individual's employment without a big show or any kind of drama. Just do it professionally and respectfully.

In most cases the "mob" will begin to look to their own interests. While they may feel solidarity with their terminated colleague it's a different matter to put their own employment on the line. Then if you don't see improvement over time, continue the process until each of them is replaced. With each individual released the group will reshape itself until finally it looks and behaves in a manner that is beneficial to the business.

On a side note, the situation has only gotten this way through some kind of lack of oversight. Either you were unable or unwilling to be "the bad guy" or you have not followed through on expectations previously. You will need to "stiffen your backbone" and be prepared to follow through on threats, demands and expectations from this point forward. They're only ignoring you because you allow it or put up with it. It doesn't have to be a draconian environment, but it should be, at the very least, respectful.

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    +1 for the one-by-one approach. But I wouldn't waste time with a PIP. Just do it. Take out the ring leader (not quietly) and see if whether any of the others has the fortitude to take over. Probably not. They'll start to self-select out of the organization. – Kent A. Sep 3 '15 at 14:10
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    @KentAnderson: I only really recommend the PIP as a form of legal protection. As with anything, documentation ends up saving the day usually. Also, making a "show" of it has more potential of embarrassing the "sacked" individual which could create further entanglements and also galvanize the spirit of those remaining. Everyone has their own style, I just personally think the professional manner is best. – Joel Etherton Sep 3 '15 at 14:14
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    Joel, it sounds like OP can put together any documentation needed, if needed. You're right, don't make show out of it (an overt attempt at humiliation is never called for) but also don't do it so quietly that nobody knows it's happened, and why. It can be done visibly, and still be done professionally and with dignity. – Kent A. Sep 3 '15 at 14:22
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    @donjuedo: I disagree wholeheartedly. The sharing of personnel information in this fashion is inappropriate and sows discord among the "survivors". Employee X has been let go. The others who have been placed on a PIP can be left to wonder or collude why, but the fact that someone has been let go signals that action is being taken (for whatever reason) and their performance determines if that action is taken against them. Discretion with respect to employee information is always a paramount concern. – Joel Etherton Sep 3 '15 at 19:20
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    I'm with @donjuedo on this one. Sometimes the head on the pike is entirely appropriate. If the OP's assessment is accurate, then this is probably one of those times. – Wesley Long Sep 3 '15 at 20:40
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This problem is a result of non-management. Perhaps some management would rectify the situation.

Everyone else is exploring the "PIP and fire them now" side. I'm going to explore other possibilities that may allow you to avoid firings and avoid good people leaving.

Now, perhaps you wonder why I don't fire them. We cannot find other workers at the time to take their place, and we have a lot of orders to fulfill.

People that are hard to replace typically require a lot of training or education to do their jobs. Unskilled laborers are easier to replace than skilled laborers.

Therefore, it sounds like you have knowledge workers of some type.

If you follow the harsh recommendations I'm seeing here, I think they'll be very unhappy and much more likely to leave. You could destroy your own business if they feel you've mistreated them.

[they] do not allow newer workers hired in the same department to integrate into the team

If they are knowledge workers, perhaps they have good reason to keep the new guys at arm's length. It could be that they have a long-term strategy to integrate the new people and you simply aren't aware of it yet. It could be a short-sighted strategy based on pressure to deliver. It could be that they really aren't cooperating with your strategy of making them more easily redundant. But since your business relies on them and they are so difficult to replace, you need to take a more careful tack with them than firings and warnings.

Perhaps you could better use their self-interested reaction to pressures for your benefit and thus better align everyone's interests. Some suggestions along these lines:

  • Talk to them about their strategy to integrate the new hires. Find out what their concerns are about the new people. Ask if they've created any problems. See if you can do anything to help (you probably can't, but the attempt shows that you're on the same side of the table as they are). Maybe the new people need training that the more tenured folk haven't made time for. Give them a balanced scorecard so that they can make the time to do these activities without feeling like they're sacrificing their performance goals.

  • Elevate those with the most leadership potential to management, and make them responsible for getting productivity out of the new people. Management isn't for everyone, if you determine a leader you picked isn't working out, you'll want to move them back into the single contributor role while feeling that their compensation is handled fairly. You'll want to structure their compensation to separately compensate for their management responsibilities. Maybe you'll have several managers, each in charge of integrating a few people.

  • Hire a manager from the outside to be solely responsible for the above strategies and for optimizing your long-term output. He'll be much easier to fire if he's not working out.

From the original question:

The tension has escalated to the point that some of the new hires have resigned.

A commenter comments:

This makes them (at the very best) extremely bad at managing people, and the suggestion that you promote any of the to a management position is laughable.

I think that's a simplistic view. In fact, we don't know very much about this situation. If they're knowledge workers, as I am assuming, there may well be a few of them that would make good managers. Maybe there are others at the firm that could fill that role. Maybe it's impossible, and the recommendation (one of several) is no good. But if your people leave and you can't replace them, you'll be out of business.

Another comment:

Minimum wage jobs can be harder to fill if other unskilled positions pay more.

If what you're assuming is true, the simple solution, then, is to pay a competitive wage. If they can't pay competitively, then the firm's business model is built on an unsustainable strategy of only paying below-market wages.

If the firm can't afford to pay competitive wages, it's a question of its competitiveness in the industry. If it can't compete then it should fail.

Let's imagine, on the other hand, that this is a software development shop. Stealing from production was, for example, someone running an IRC client on a production server (which they shouldn't do, but maybe they felt entitled to as a job perk or as part of the culture, or maybe they're actually using it for business purposes). Then these are developers, and the senior developers naturally want to keep their new hires at arms length until they learn the processes and expectations of their development culture. If that's the case, here's the other side of this question: What is a 'friendly' way to let managers know that having good developers is a privilege?

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    Yeah, this sure strikes me as a situation where some involved conversations trying to understand their concerns is the best first step... – enderland Sep 3 '15 at 15:38
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    This is by far my favourite answer - Give them more responsibility and encourage growth, rather than just making an example. – SeanR Sep 4 '15 at 8:16
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    Did you read the part of the question where it says "new workers have quit because of the tensions". This makes them (at the very best) extremely bad at managing people, and the suggestion that you promote any of the to a management position is laughable. – DJClayworth Sep 4 '15 at 13:12
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    Thanks, I explained my reasoning above, adding these lines: "Unskilled laborers are easy to replace. People that are hard to replace require a lot of training or education to do their jobs." – Aaron Hall Sep 6 '15 at 12:19
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How I would handle this situation:

I'd call that team into a meeting. I'd list the behaviors that I saw as detrimental to the company. Then I'd pick the worst offender and fire them right then, in front of everyone else. After that person was walked out, I'd then resume the meeting and explain what my expectations going forward were. I'd then put all of them on notice with a Personal Improvement Plan.

That same day I would list several open positions within the company on various job sites and attempt to hire their replacements. Don't try to hide this - it's yet another way to let them know you are very serious.

There are several possibilities for what would happen after that.

  • They shape up. Sometimes the fear induced when you realize that your very job is on the line can help bring focus and clarity to your job.

  • Some quit. Good riddance. Yes this would be a tough time and I've certainly lost people at critical junctures but that is just a business problem you should be able to handle. As others have pointed out it's no different than if they were all hit by that proverbial bus.

  • The don't quit and don't shape up. Continue firing them, as you locate their replacements. Speaking of which, the new hires should not report to the new group and you should try and separate their responsibilities as much as possible as you remove the old team.


Now, one last thing you should do is find out why they are acting this way. Sometimes it has to do with specific company policies. Sometimes it's simply a few people with bad attitudes. If there is something you can change in the workplace to make their lives easier then do it. Regardless I'd say this team is beyond redemption and you're best bet is to replace them as quickly as possible.

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    I like the principle, but NEVER fire someone in an open meeting. That will probably get you a walk-out, and if you are not in the USA a lawsuit. – DJClayworth Sep 3 '15 at 14:45
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    @DJClayworth: I'm the owner; the OP is also the owner. So being walked out as the firer is incredibly unlikely. I agree under normal circumstances you should handle firing an employee in private; however, in this case where the entire team likely needs to be removed a little publicity would, in my opinion, help. Further this sounds like a small company so the act, the reasons for it, etc aren't going to be private anyway. As an alternative, fire the employee, walk them out, then have the meeting. – NotMe Sep 3 '15 at 14:56
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    This sounds like a great way to destroy your credibility as a manager/CEO. – enderland Sep 3 '15 at 15:29
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    @NotMe As (I hope), a trustworthy employee, if the owner of my company did this public ritual to a fellow employee, even the most gigantic jackass in the company, I would have my CV updated and be soliciting offers by the end of the day. If your company is willing to humiliate you based on a bad relationship, it's not your company; it's a place that offers you money for humiliation and toil. Everything else you've laid out is setting boundaries and handling the issue. Standing them up in front of a crowd is just vicious theatre. – deworde Sep 4 '15 at 8:34
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    @NotMe No, I think an employee should always be reprimanded and fired in private, and if you're going to refer them to the police for theft, you'd still have them wait alone in private. Their misdemeanors can then be made public if necessary to stop further issues (although I personally prefer the "steps have been taken to stop this behaviour, doing this can and has led to immediate termination" rather than the "Dan was doing this, so we fired him, let's all judge Dan", if only because if Dan is proven innocent then you don't get sued for defamation and loss of earnings). – deworde Sep 4 '15 at 13:30
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Don't handle this problem yourself.

This is not a problem that suddenly appeared overnight. Unless you're a new owner that took over this business yesterday because your Aunt Sally died last week, chances are that this is a systemic problem that slowly grew and developed itself silently under your own supervision (or lack thereof).

And chances are, you're currently missing the experience or the personality, to manage your business into its next growth phase. Please do not take this as an indictment or as a negative judgement of your intelligence or your achievements. I do not mean to say that you will lack this know-how forever, I just mean that you're currently lacking that know-how right now.

And in cases like these, I'm recommending that you start replacing yourself (even if it's only a temporary measure), and not replace the underlings. Firing even one underling can be problematic, especially if they stick together, of if you perceive them as your friends, and not as your employees. As a human being, it can be suddenly very difficult to change your own behavioral patterns overnight.

So hire yourself a manager. Hire yourself a sergeant, or a line-manager, preferably someone already in the industry your business is already in. Screen that person carefully. Do not look for a double of yourself, look for someone who has the personality traits and the lower management successful track record that you do not have yourself. That person doesn't need to be as smart as you are. That person doesn't need to have gone to the same school as you have. That person just needs to have thrived in a successful highly structured environment in the same industry as yours. That person will either be a current manager, or a current assistant manager. Unfortunately, unless you're paying much more than your competitors, you're probably only going to be able to poach someone who is currently an assistant manager.

But that's ok, just do your due diligence. Make sure that person has a backbone. Then once you hire that person, a person you trust, give him or her the full authority to fire everyone if he / she has to. Not that this is the plan, it's not. Just know that this person needs to have that kind of authority, even that authority never gets exercised. Then, let go of the business and let him/her handle it. If you want to help, help, but never by second-guessing his actions. Chances are, you won't like his actions. They won't feel natural to you. But stay the course. What feels natural to you is probably what got you into this mess in the first place.

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    What feels natural to you is probably what got you into this mess in the first place right on. – Ejaz Sep 5 '15 at 17:02
  • Good point about not assigning all the blame to the employees - it takes two to tango, as the saying goes... – sleske Sep 7 '15 at 8:45
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Yes, I really ask you why you do not fire them. :)

Try to find a replacement for them immediately. If it is possible, limit their interaction with new workers to the minimum and assist your new ones as good as you can. They have to feel welcome, even if your anarchos want to push them out.

In the meantime, find out WHY they act that way. Did they have problems with the new colleagues? Are they feeling untouchable? Maybe you can help them with their problems, and everything works out fine for all of you.

If not, make it crystal clear to them that their behavior is not tolerated. Write an performance improvement plan and let them sign it. If they do not change, you will have no other choice than fire them.

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    "Yes, I really ask you why you do not fire them." He says he can't replace them, and won't be able to fill orders if he fires them. – Aaron Hall Sep 4 '15 at 15:38
  • It sounds like you are going to be better of without these people than with them. You need to fire en mass with no warning and fully lock out their electronic access. This group seems like they will sabotage your systems if you are not careful. Then go out and hire a consulting firm that can get some boots on the ground right away. That should give you some working room while you backfill with FTE. – Bill Leeper Sep 4 '15 at 17:37
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I'm going to go along with Aaron Hall here and suggest that perhaps this "small faction of insubordinate employees" knows (or thinks it knows, anyway) a bit more about your product and (especially) the process required to deliver it than you do. You believe them to be indispensable. There is a reason for your belief, right?

On the other hand, they could just be a bunch of Prima Donnas, but before firing the lot wholesale as many here suggest, and risking the continued success of your business, I would try to root out the source of the insubordination.

I'd also be as specific as possible when you approach them, individually or collectively. That is, instead of "Why are you being insubordinate?", something more along the lines of "When I told you to do 'X', why didn't you want to do it?"

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The Wandering Dev Mana has hit the basic principles, but let me suggest some specific actions. Your first aim should be to stop this bad behaviour. In the long run letting it continue will kill the company, whether or not you fulfil the orders. After that your priority is lose as few people as possible.

  1. Get each person individually into your office. Tell him the behaviour you have observed, and tell him how it is hurting the company. Ask why he is behaving like this.
  2. If he raises some valid issues, agree to do your best to address them as far as possible.
  3. Regardless, tell him you expect his behaviour to change. Give him specific behaviours to change, and a short timescale in which to change them. It's important that you do this individually. If you do it as a group they are more likely to try to argue with you.
  4. If anyone refuses point blank to change their behaviour (hopefully unlikely if you have explained the reasoning clearly) , fire them as soon as your local employment laws allow - immediately if possible.
  5. Allow a couple of days between each interview, and start with the worst offenders. This means that if you have to fire the first person, you can start your interview with the second with "I think you should know that we had to let Bill go this morning", and if not you can say "I'm having this conversation with several people, and they have all agreed with what I say", either of which should have a motivating effect.
  6. Follow up with regular frequent meetings with each person and track whether each one's behaviour has actually improved. If it hasn't, fire the worst offender(s). Rinse, repeat.
  7. Don't allow any of the conversations to become about what other people do - focus only on the behaviour of the person you are talking to.
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    "and explain to him - forcefully" How do you explain forcefully? "If you do it as a group they are more likely to stand up to you." "Stand up to" is a verb construction, the object of which is usually a bully. And the firings, in your points 2 and 4 - he says he can't replace them and can't fill orders without them, so I don't see how this works. – Aaron Hall Sep 4 '15 at 15:45
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    "Forcefully" means, instead of saying things like "I'd really like it if you did things differently", you say "The way you are acting is hurting the company, and it is necessary for you to change it." This is an entirely appropriate thing for the boss of a company to say. This approach gives you a better chance of fixing the biggest problem while still keeping most of your workers. – DJClayworth Sep 4 '15 at 17:24
  • Don't forget to read The Wandering Dev Manager's answer in conjunction with this. He has said a lot of good things i haven't bothered to duplicate. – DJClayworth Sep 4 '15 at 17:28
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    "Your first aim should be to stop this bad behaviour." I'd actually say that the first aim should be figuring out the reason for the behavior. If an entire team of his most senior employees are acting a certain way, there's probably a reason and it might even be a valid one. – reirab Sep 6 '15 at 6:40
2

Your mutinous group is acting that way because they think they're indispensable. Today that may actually be true, at least in the short term.

Your mutiny cabal thinks that it's an "us" against "them" situation, with "them" being the rest of the company.

There is a simple and elegant solution to your problem:

1) Reassign;

2) Cross-train.

The situation you have today is that you can't afford to lose the entire group, but you CAN lose one or two. But you don't even have to lose them. You take the worst ring-leader of the bunch, and you REASSIGN him to a different department. Your reason? "WE" need to all become more adaptable in handling other aspects of the business. This is "probably" temporary, it's a cross-training exercise. You switch him/her with another well-respected employee from another department, and they both are SPECIFICALLY charged with cross-training each other's job.

This is "a good thing."

When you do this, the "mutiny cabal" will most certainly see what the gig is, and they'll know that you're taking away their trump card.

Your ring-leaders will object that it's not efficient or a good use of their time, and the simple answer is, "we know this will affect our efficiency over the short term, but it's a long-term vision that is about making sure ALL employees have a chance to build their skills."

After a little while, it will become apparent to the department that the company will be able to function without them, at least on a short term emergency basis. When they need overtime work, have one of your cross-trainees from another department pick up the extra hours instead of them.

Once you're out from under their thumb, you'll find, as others have remarked, that you likely have one or possibly two "ring leaders" who are influencing the whole gang, and they will rebel, and you can let them move on to other opportunities at some other company, and the rest will look hard and long at their own personal best interests.

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    It sounds like this is a small business, since the OP is both the owner of the company and the boss of these employees. I don't think there are other departments that they could be reassigned to. – David K Sep 3 '15 at 17:36
  • @DavidK, since there's not any information on company size, we're both then making untoward assumptions then, aren't we? – dwoz Sep 3 '15 at 18:23
2

Your problem is that they

think they can do whatever the[y] like

From your question it seems the reason that they think this is: you allow them to do whatever they like.

As the boss you have exactly one power over them: You pay them money, which they probably need. It seems they convinced themselves that you don't have the power to take that away.

The most surefire way to convince them that they actually can lose their job is to fire one of them. Don't threaten them with being fired, because empty threats only make things worse.

Once you've fired one of them, they will take write ups and warnings a lot more seriously, and that is the best way to avoid having to fire the others. If you first threaten each of them, as suggested in many other answers, they are likely to call what they believe to be a bluff. If they all give you reason to fire them after the threat, yet you only fire one, this sends both the message that you can fire them, and the message that you can only fire one of them and they are now even safer than before.

As TheJulyPlot said, you'll want to fire the ringleader, which lowers the risk of the remaining problem children organizing some form of protest.

  • He says he can't replace them, and won't be able to fill orders if he fires them. How do you respond to that? – Aaron Hall Sep 4 '15 at 15:36
  • @AaronHall He also says if he doesn't get them in line, new hires will resign, and that he suspects some of them are stealing. Can't have the cake and eat it too. Threatening to fire them when you and them both know you won't follow through will not resolve the situation, and neither will nice words. – Peter Sep 4 '15 at 23:17
1

Everyone is replaceable and if they are not you should work on your system and organizational chart to ensure that if some leaves you will still be able to operate. Also, this has escalated because this type of behavior is obviously acceptable and perceived as acceptable since you keep them employed.

To deal with the insubordination I would take the following steps.

If they work on the floor then institute a 5S or cleanliness program. Cleanliness breeds discipline and it is visible who has bought in and who hasn't.

At the next sign of subordination, pull the employee away from the group (this is important) and explain to them that this is not acceptable and this is a verbal warning.

If it happens again then give them a written warning and send them home for the day without pay. Tell them if it happens again they're done for. This is punitive action that is as close to firing as you can get. At this point I would start looking for a replacement.

Next, if it happens again then it is time to dehire them. Hopefully an example will set the others straight and if not it is not worth keeping them anyway.

1

You must re-assert your authority immediately. There is no need to be rude, demanding or angry about it.

You are the boss. It is within your authority to institute a performance-improvement plan.

After a month or two, you can schedule meetings with everyone, including the insubordinate employees. Pick the one you will miss the least, and explain how they are being terminated. Have a security person nearby if you really think the person may attack you.

Have your HR person escort them to their desk, observe what they are removing, and then out of the building. Don't be angry.

This will create an example which may result in bringing the other insubordinate employees under control. If not, you will (regrettably) have to repeat the experience. Sure, it is too bad someone has to go, but every company has a "bottom 10%" of employees, and no one expects to be employed forever anyhow.

Don't forget that you have to hire people to replace the ones you let-go. Don't let the applicant be interviewed by the troublemakers; they will bad-mouth your company.

And meet with the group of trouble-makers and tell them you expect them to be professional and cooperate with the new employees. And that their effectiveness in integrating the new employee is another item being tracked on their monthly performance reviews.

0

Talk to them, with a view to firing some of them.

Complying with management requests is a vital part of any job, so we are going to set up a scenario where they must either clearly comply or clearly fail. That clarity gives you the basis to fire anyone who does not comply.

You could just do that, but I think it would be better to give the team the opportunity to change direction, making it clear that you have the above process to enforce compliance. From the employee's perspective you may have been a bad manager in the past, and their clique may be a reaction to that. Unlike the trigger-happy responses here, we should allow for this possibility and create a constructive future direction.

It is unlikely that the whole team is entrenched - some are likely to be willing to change direction but caught between two polar camps. By confronting the issue directly with them individually, you make it possible for them to buy into a new option without risking the wrath of the existing team.

So the steps would then be: 1. Create a policy or edict that requires compliance, which they would usually ignore - integrating a new team member, following a new process or procedure. It must be measurable to provide clarity so that there is no wiggle room. 2. Call the team members in individually, explain what is happening, demonstrate that you are both aware of the problem and looking to resolve it constructively. 3. Follow through with the policy or change, and measure all team members comprehensively. 4. Assuming that some of the team fail to uphold the demands of the policy, fire the worst one or two, and measure for a further period. This way if there was doubt about your willingness to follow through, they have a renewed opportunity to change their path.

It is always worth considering employee issues from both sides (including the one where you are in the wrong), and I believe it is worth engaging with people and giving them the opportunity to take a good path; anything else misses the opportunity. But factions within an organisation are toxic, so the current situation must not be permitted to continue. Thus the approach here to create a fork in the road, point out the fork, and then follow through.

protected by Jane S Sep 3 '15 at 20:54

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